Friday, May 06, 2011

Ball Ball Ball Footy Footy Footy

Now, what I know about football could quite comfortably be written with a large black marker pen on one of those oval shaped balls that people who play football (I think they call them “Footballateers”) use. Sport to me is something that other people do, which is good because on the whole it means I don’t have to watch them doing it.

That’s actually a slight exaggeration – I have a vague interest in my home team (Coventry City) and how well they’re doing, and I have been known, on occasion to watch the European Football Championships or the World Cup. I’ll admit I don’t fully understand the offside rule, still struggle to see how footballers can command such ridiculous wages and confess that football struggles to keep my entire interest during the course of the 90 minutes, but I’m not a complete stranger to the game.

So it was with some trepidation that I was nagged – yes, that’s the word for it, nagged – into going to see the final home game of the season on Saturday the 30th of April. Coventry City (safe from relegation but lingering at the bottom third of the npower Championship table) versus Reading (4th or 5th at the time, I can’t recall). I tried to weasel my way out of it, but my wife Tara (a much bigger football fan than I) wasn’t having any of it. Saying that she was ‘disappointed’ was the only female trick she needed to pull out to guilt me into going.

So, Saturday afternoon saw Tara and myself accompanied by Tom, Fran and my dad and Taras mum on the sunny short walk along Longford Canal to the Ricoh Stadium. I’ve been to the Ricoh before, but never to the stadium part – my visits have been either for free tickets to see The Enemy (or for absolutely dreadful meals) or to visit the Tesco superstore next door (and Borders bookstore as well, when it still existed).

Spirits were high as we headed in and I must confessed as we entered the Ricoh itself I couldn’t help but point out to Tara that I was actually quite excited – something I’d never expected to happen. To be honest on my approach I was just looking forward to the end of the whole thing. If you’ve never been into the Ricoh, the Stadium itself is very impressive and sitting in amongst the huge crowds (Attendance was around 22,000 if memory serves) was quite an experience.

(As an aside, strictly speaking this wasn’t my first ever football match. I think I went to my only other match at Coventrys considerably grottier old ground back in Highfield Road around 1980 to see them play Tottenham, but my memories of that day are quite vague.)

Reading had a good turnout, but mind you they’re only down the road. We watched with amusement as many of them had large pink inflatable penises confiscated from them, not something you see every Saturday. Unless you live in Reading, perhaps.

Irate Coventry City Fan Willie Tanner
Only slightly unnerved by the fact that I was sitting right behind Willie Tanner (not in fact a buffing device for large pink inflatable penises, but the dad from eighties TV series Alf) and him getting quite irate at points – at one stage looking like he wanted to fight all of the Reading fans singlehandedly – the game was surprisingly entertaining. Especially surprising to me in that I wasn’t bored for the whole duration of the game, and really enjoyed it.

The new strip was unveiled, the game was great and the chants were funny and good natured, except for some of the choicier and distasteful ones about Coventry Striker (and convicted Sex offender) Marlon King ("She said no marlon! she said no. she said no, Marlon, she said no.")

But at least we got the hear the classic (and my own personal favourite) “In Our Coventry Homes”

In our Coventry homes, in our Coventry homes
We speak with an accent exceedingly rare,
You want a cathedral we've got one to spare,
in our Coventry homes.

Ok, so it was a 0-0 draw but Coventry played excellently.  But this of course means I have to go again next season so I can at least see a goal. I think the real winner of the day was football, game of two halves, sick as a parrot, etc.

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